South Padre Island Coconut Palm

coconut_palm(9B/10A)January 2, 2013

Here is a photo of a South Padre Island coconut palm. Though no coconuts are on the palm when this photo was taken, I have personally counted 47 on this palm a few years ago, and the lady who owns the house told me that one year she had 93 coconuts on her palm! This past year that palm, like all of the coconut palms in the Rio Grande Valley was recovering from a bad winter.

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ericthehurdler(NOR CAL 9a)

That is a beauty!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:57AM
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Any particular reason why the trunk is painted white?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 7:13AM
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Looks like some strong new growth.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:13AM
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I think thats the white paint they paint on the trunk of trees to keep certain pests away.

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:57AM
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The white trunk is a South American tradition. Sometimes its for pests,sometimes to warn cars driving by "a trunk is here"..sometimes to keep young trunks from sunburn..but mostly tradition and why you don't see it done in Africa or Asia or Australia often if at all. Soutex seems more aligned then soufla also.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:55PM
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I remember in Europe many years back seeing fruit trees with their trunks painted white. The explanation I got was that it was lime based and stopped insect pests crawling out of the ground back up into the trees in spring. Apparently the pests fell with the leaves in autumn and went into the ground to hibernate, or lay eggs, etc.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:27PM
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I hear that some decidious fruit trees are painted white because lighter colors do not absorb heat as much as darker colors which keeps them from blooming too early if there is a freak warm spell and then a killing freeze after that. It could also be for pests also.
I definitely think that palms are painted in some places for traditional reasons and to keep cars from not seeing them too iun high traffic areas.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:41PM
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ericthehurdler(NOR CAL 9a)

I agree that it is mostly out of tradition. My town has many Mexican families from Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan etc that paint the tree trunks white. I asked some of them and they said it was just how they did it back in Mexico. Even though many of the wood boring bugs do not live in our climate nor does it get hot enough to crack the trunks they still do it because it is what they are used to. I think it can look very charming and is reminiscent of the tropics. :)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:51PM
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I agree that your coconut palm looks good. Here in
Sarasota florida (60 miles south of Tampa), many of
the coconut palms and Christmas Palms died because of
a week long cold front in January 2010.

Is the small palm underneath the Coconut palm, a Thatch
palm which is native to the Keys (thrinax radiata)?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Hey Gardenbysarasota,

It seems like Florida has had some unusually cold weather over the last 12 years. I lived in Coral Springs on the northwest side of Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of years (2000-2002). In January of 2001, it got down to 32F where I lived, but in Homestead an hour south, it got down to 28F and they are only 25 miles north of Key Largo! It is weird how it got so much colder further south than it did in Coral Springs. In the northern part of the Everglades, though it got down to 19F and wiped out 40,000 acres of sugarcane! I am afraid the over-development of Florida, especially South and Central Florida is drastically changing the climate there for the worst rapidly with unusually cold winters and extremely bad droughts.

Our Texas coconut palms do not reach the 70ft.+ height like they do in South Florida and the Keys. We are looking if we can grow them to 20ft tall in overall height, with a few in the 30ft. height range in the Rio Grande Valley. I posted a couple of photos on another thread here of one in Brownsville that is approximately 40ft. tall to the top of the crown. That is about the maximum height we cold ever expect to grow on on the extreme lower Texas Coast.

I think the palm in front of the coconut palm in the yard in South Padre Island is a Thatch Palm. I have seen a few in the area that are about 10-12ft. tall.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 6:30PM
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thanks, I figured it was a thatch palm. On the South side
of my house which is a little warmer at night in the winter
I have 2 thatch palms that look similar. I was just a couple of weeks ago in South Florida and drove through Coral
Springs which is a real nice area. I wish that Sarasota
was as tropical as South Florida. It's good to know that
in South Texas you can grow some of the more tropical
palms also.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Click the link below for more pictures of coconut and other tropical palms (large christmas palms and royals) in Texas! Btw Mr. Coconut Palm, there is another large coconut on the same street as the one you posted, hiding on the side of an abandoned house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropical Palms in Texas

This post was edited by zone13 on Tue, Feb 5, 13 at 18:08

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Hey Jonathon,

Thanks for the recent photos. Is that one really tall coconut palm at the Flamingo Motel in Brownsville? There are a few coconut palms here in Corpus Christi, but they don't get as big as they do in Brownsville.

By the way, a few years ago, a friend of mine who lives in La Feria (by Harlingen) and I were at the Rio Grande Delta, and we saw two healthy growing red mangroves with lots of viable seeds hanging down from them. One was about 7ft. tall, and the other one was about 4ft.tall, both growing along a tidal creek that empties into the river right before the river enters the Gulf. They were growing among thousands of black mangroves and we walked back into the mangrove swamp about 50 yards before we saw them.

It's nice to know that the sea grapes are recovering. I love them too, and they really complement coconut palms when planting for that tropical beach effect. I plan on planting at least one sea grape with my coconut palms in my yard here at Flour Bluff in Corpus Christi in another month or two.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:30PM
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Oh, and those Christmas palms are beautiful too. I also plan on planting two of those on either side of my front walk this spring. I will post some before and after photos of my yard once I start planting my tropicals.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:33PM
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Hey Jonathon,

Check out MicroLife fertilizer made by San Jacinto Environmental in Houston. It is 100% organic in a 6-2-4 ratio with 70 micronutrients. I have been using it for about a year now, with really good results. You can get it at Plants For All Seasons and several other nurseries in Houston. I highly recommend it, and it was recommended to me by Randy Lemon who hosts the Gardenline program on AM 740 on Sat. and Sun. mornings.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:37PM
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